Silver Racket pin
In the middle of the circle-shaped pin made of silver or silver-coloured metal there is an embossed image of a tennis racket and tennis ball. The outer edge has inscription ‘Hopeamaila Viikkosanomat’ (Silver Racket Viikkosanomat Newspaper). The edge on the back has a diagonal groove pattern. The back is fastened in the needle section by rotating into a thread. The diameter of the pin is 13 mm and height 10 mm. The pin comprised in the Serlachius Museums’ object collection is related to the Silver Racket Tennis Tournament of the young.
In Mänttä, tennis has over a century-long tradition and tournaments have been organised actively. Completed in 1950, the tennis courts and stylish pavilion added the glamour of the sport. The Silver Racket Tournaments commenced in 1955. Viikkosanomat Newspaper sponsored the tournament organized by Finnish Tennis Association. It attracted young players to participate. The finals were organised in Helsinki and the trip also included a visit to Linnanmäki Amusement Park.
“At that time there was a Silver Racket Tournament with local qualifiers in Mänttä, regional qualifiers and finals for 14-, 16- and 18-year-olds. Each year I played in the finals and managed to win several medals”, recalls one player from Mänttä who had success in the 1960s.
For a long time, tennis was the hobby of the upper middle class. In the 1970s, the threshold to play tennis was lowered and court etiquette became more relaxed. In the qualifiers, beside white plaid skirts and Lacoste polo shirts one could also see Mäntän Urheilijat Sports club’s or Adidas tracksuits, the caps of bank SYP and flaming red shorts. “I had a white T-shirt with my name printed in capital letters and on the back an image of two tennis rackets crosswise and a tennis ball – almost like in the Wimbledon logo. It was a gift from my teammate.”
A bright shining pin was given to each young who participated in the qualifiers. Every possible player was summoned to play, because the number of participants determined how many players could get through. Along were all the girls from the neighbourhood who had even seen a racket before. Each of them received a pin. They were total novices. They were not able to do the overarm serve and on top of that served underarm and hit it off the bounce! Some of the parents of young players commented: How do they play like this here? Serve underhand? But it went well. I also managed to do alright.” The Silver Racket pin now reminds of the experience of success.
The author has studied Mänttä’s tennis history
Carlson, Anna-Riikka: Elämäni peli -Suomen tenniksen ensimmäiset 100 vuotta. Avain, 2011.
Kivelä, Pekka: Mäntän klubin albumi Jyväskylä. Kauko Sorjosen säätiö, 2011.
Petäjä, Reino: Mäntän Tennisklubi 50 vuotta, 1979.
Tennis Mäntässä, oral history of tennis in Mänttä, Serlachius Museums